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Yavapai Food Council has been helping those who are food insecure in a variety of ways and the numbers for 2016 are in.File photo/Larson Newspapers

Executive Director Amy Aossey sent out a report detailing the council’s accomplishments.

A total of 345,715 meals were distributed countywide. The nonprofit achieved this number working with volunteers in the community, faith-based organizations, schools and donors.

Though only six months into his tenure as interim superintendent of Mingus Union High School District, Eric Harmon is thinking seriously about the future of his students, teachers and staff.Eric Harmon, interim superintendent of Mingus Union High School District, said he is hoping to align instruction at the high school by implementing Beyond Textbooks, an online curriculum that can be modified by teachers.

“The school’s great, the teachers are great and the kids are great,” Harmon said, but offered an unambiguous critique of the way K-8 and high schools interact with each other in non-unified school districts throughout the Verde Valley and Sedona. “There’s no articulation for K-12 schools in the Verde Valley, as far as I can tell.”

In October, Sedona City Attorney Robert Pickels called Senate Bill 1487 one of the worst pieces of legislation he’d ever seen.Sylvia Allen Arizona State Senator

Two months later, his feelings haven’t changed.

On Dec. 14, more than 20 members of the city of Sedona staff and council members as well as council members from Cottonwood, Jerome, Camp Verde and Clarkdale met in Sedona City Hall. There, they talked on a variety of issues facing the 2017 state legislature with state Reps. Bob Thorpe [R] and Brenda Barton [R] as well as state Sen. Sylvia Allen [R]. All three represent the Verde Valley.

Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District will lose its superintendent, Barbara U’Ren, on Friday, June 30.Babrara U'ren

She recommended to the COCSD Governing Board that it appoint Assistant Superintendent Steve King to replace her.

U’Ren would not expand on her future plans beyond stating she would be pursuing other professional avenues, including consulting for the district.

Unlike its neighbor Cottonwood, Clarkdale chose not to embrace the Tobacco 21 initiative, rejecting a resolution that would restrict the sale of tobacco and vapor products to those 21 and older.File photo/Larson Newspapers

A 3-2 vote during the Clarkdale Town Council meeting Dec. 13 defeated the resolution, with Mayor Doug Von Gausig, Vice Mayor Richard Dehnert and councilman Curtiss Bohall voting against and councilmen Scott Buckley and Bill Regner voting in favor.

Rachel Hernandez and her son, Jaime Valenzuela, officially kicked off Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity’s 13th homebuild Dec. 13 in Cottonwood.Michael Niemann of HercuTech, general contractor Jim Lawler, Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Tania Simms, homeowner Rachel Hernandez and her son Jaime turn dirt at the ground breaking of Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity Home Build No. 13. The project broke ground on Dec. 13, and will begin construction early in 2017.

Hernandez began the laborious process of acquiring a mortgage and two-bedroom home construction approval through Habitat for Humanity mid-year and got final approval in October. As part of the qualification process, she and 19-year-old Valenzuela put in 300 to 400 sweat-equity hours and raised funds for Habitat for Humanity.

During his first appearance as mayor of Cottonwood, Timothy Elinski wondered aloud why anyone would seek public office.Mayor Tim Elinski

“After this election, I don’t know why anyone would run,” Elinski said during the Cottonwood City Council regular meeting Dec. 6. He called the campaign between President-elect Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton “ugly” and “vitriolic.”

The bill for a college education can be a major burden for families in the Verde Valley, but there are ways to reduce costs.Zack Garcia/Larson Newspapers

On Dec. 6, more than 150 high school students, returning college students, parents and school staff gathered at Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus for a scholarship awareness night hosted by the Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona in partnership with the Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County.

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